A Difficult Christmas Memory

A Difficult Christmas Memory December 13, 2023





This is hard to write. I suppose it is a confession, of sort. I ask pardon in advance from anyone I may offend—no offense is intended. Please grant me grace. This is a difficult Christmas memory:

A Difficult Christmas Memory

One evening, more than a decade ago as Christmas was approaching, I was racing into Walmart to grab a few last-minute items. As I neared the entrance, I noticed a man in a wheelchair almost blocking my path. He had only one leg and part of one of his hands was missing. He was incredibly ragged and when I got close I could smell him. He was begging for money. My reaction—discomfort, embarrassment and repulsion. I wish I could put that word in a smaller font. Even if he had been clean and in the church foyer, I think I still would have tried to avoid him, because I just never knew how to respond to people with such extreme physical challenges. I walked within feet of him, smiled without making eye contact, voiced a weak “hello,” and quickened my pace until I was safely inside the store thinking, “Maybe he’ll be gone by the time I come out.” It was an awkward moment that I had no idea would turn into a difficult Christmas memory that remains all these years later.

A Difficult Christmas Lesson

I was in the middle of the frozen food section (ironically) when I was hit by such shame and conviction that tears came to my eyes. I was so blessed. I had a wonderful, healthy family, good personal health, a beautiful, clean home, and I was heading that evening for a Christmas party with dear loving friends—things he obviously did not have. How could I be harboring such a frozen heart?

A Spiritual “180”  

I didn’t have much cash with me, so I quickly put a few items back. “Lord, let him still be there when I get back!” I paid for my items, got my change and raced out the door. There he was! I walked over to him and handed him the money, and then Jesus took over!

“Do you know Jesus, Sir?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Do you know how much He loves you?”

No answer, just tears.

“May I pray with you?”


I knelt by this man and took hold of his mutilated hands, and prayed for him gently. I did not pray for his healing, but I prayed that his needs would be met and that his heart would be overwhelmed by the love of His heavenly Father. Then I hugged him. The funny thing is, I don’t think I prayed for him so much because he needed it, although we can all use the prayer and encouragement of another, as because I needed it. I have often wondered if he was an angel sent to teach me a lesson.

Lesson Learned

I needed to learn to love more like Jesus and to recognize the hurt of others through His eyes. You see, the thing that convicted me in the frozen food section was that God gave me just a glimpse of the way I looked to Him before I asked Jesus into my heart. I was ragged, filthy, stinking to high heaven, and so incomplete—much worse off than that man at the door. How could I not reach out to a fellow human soul after what Jesus had done for me?

A Difficult Revelation

There was a time when Jesus was unattractive. He stumbled through a crowd to a hill called Calvary, bloody, sweaty, feverish, dirty, abused. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:2b-3). Would I have loved that Jesus if I had seen Him for the first time that day? Would I have reached out to the One who was crushed so that I could gain heaven? I’m afraid of my answer.

A New Perspective

It seems that I am not the only person who has felt awkward with people who face advanced physical challenges. Vance Morgan’s article “Disability Theology” is a light for those shadows of the spirit. It makes me glad that on that afternoon at Walmart, the Holy Spirit led me to confirm the gentleman’s salvation and to pray for him to feel the overwhelming love of God–our God who sees and knows and loves beyond the physical.

I am so humbly grateful for the lesson of my most difficult Christmas memory. I never want to forget that Jesus became unattractive and despised so that I can be clean and loved. My goal is to receive all who God sends to me, whatever their condition, and to see them through His eyes–valuable, important, and loved.

God bless you, and may we never take His sacrifice for granted.

*previously published in Coffee on the Porch with Jesus, Beverly R. Green, 2016.



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